Eastern to swim last regular season meet

Sean Hastings, Staff reporter

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The Eastern men’s and women’s swim teams will be competing in their final meet of the season before they head to the conference meet.

The Panthers will be taking on Saint Louis University on Friday at 5 p.m. at the Padovan Pool.

The men and women are both coming off losses last weekend against Valparaiso where they had 10 first place finishes, so they are looking to bounce back and get a win here in the final home meet of the year.

The men are coming in with a record of 1-7, and the women come in at 3-6.

“It’s going to be a hard meet because it’s the last meet before conference and SLU is a really good team,” Eastern coach Jacqueline Michalski said.

Michalski is hoping that they get some really good times in to earn a better seed for conference.

The Panthers lost some very close races last weekend where they seemed to be just out-matched by the Valparaiso swimmers. Michalski said they would work to make sure that it wouldn’t happen again.

This will be the team’s first home meet since Nov. 15, 2014 where they were victorious against Valparaiso.

Michalski said that everyone on the Panthers is excited to be swimming at home again because it has been so long especially the two seniors on the women’s team.

For Nikki Peck and Katie VanHootegem it is senior night and will be their final meet at Eastern.

“It’s definitely a bitter sweet feeling,” VanHootegem said. “I am excited to celebrate my four years swimming here at Eastern.”

VanHootegem said she plans to swim with no regrets and everything she has to each race.

“This team is apart of my family and it is going to be hard to eventually say goodbye,” VanHootegem said. “For now, I am just going to take in each moment with my teammates and loved ones who came out to support me on this very special night.”

Peck feels the same way as VanHootegem.

“It is very surreal to think that it is already senior night,” Peck said. “I have had a lot of great experiences and met some amazing people while being on this team and at EIU.”

Peck is grateful that she got to swim at Eastern.

“I am very lucky to be apart of a great swim team and finishing my career with awesome teammates,” Peck said. “It’s very weird to realize that this is my last home meet at Eastern.”

These two seniors and the rest of the Panthers will have to be at their best to beat Saint Louis.

“They’re a really strong team with a lot of depth and from what I’ve heard just have a strong history,” Michalski said.

Michalski’s goal for the meet is to get a lot of positive energy out of it.

“We’ll have a bunch of people here to watch us from across campus, so just hoping to put on a good show,” Michalski said.

The workload will be less in a week and they will be focusing on all the small things along with getting mentally prepared for the upcoming meet.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].